Whitby School is one of the few programs, and the first in the country as of 2010, to offer the unique combination of programming that is Montessori and International Baccalaureate accredited. As a result, Whitby School’s pre-k through eighth education has unique advantages that set students up with a love of learning that will stay with them their whole lives, says Whitby’s Gloria Arpasi, head of the middle school program.
First, a Montessori accredited program means that students at Whitby learn to be curious lovers of learning at a young age and are not afraid to take risks in their learning. Faculty aim to “follow the child” as they lead their own learning within developmentally appropriate and multi-age classrooms.
Second, the IB education at Whitby means that they dive deep into classroom work, gaining skills in research, communication, critical thinking and executive functioning, as well as learning how to collaborate effectively. “A nonpunitive assessment structure means that students can try multiple times in multiple venues to master a particular skill or lesson and they’re not penalized for that,” says Arpasi. “They’re never afraid to push themselves further and further.”
The program purposefully carries through eighth grade. “Research has shown the ages of 10 and 14 are the most formative years for a student and dictate how they handle high school, college and beyond,” says Arpasi. “So, when students stay in this pre-k through eighth grade environment, they get this confidence and ability to tackle challenges within the same environment where they have been nurtured and supported since a very early age.”
Whitby School provides a comprehensive, 18-month secondary school placement program that prepares students and parents for the high school application process. “Not only do students have the benefit of our educational continuum if they stay until eighth grade, but they have that springboard of a very professional process to counsel them and place them in their ‘best fit’ secondary school,” adds Arpasi.
In addition to a breadth of extracurriculars and courses offered through Whitby, the school also offers Signature Learning Experiences. This starts in the lower grades and continues through eighth grade. It includes specific curriculum-based travel, experiential learning and the opportunity to dive deep into a subject of their choice like Forensics, Spanish Immersion or Improv Theater. Student ambassador programs at the middle school give students the ability to take on leadership and volunteer roles both in and out of school. And co-curricular electives, a mandatory part of the school day, expose students to specialized education in things like coding, advanced chess, pottery, tennis or movie making.
“We really have the best of both worlds,” says Arpasi. “A challenging rigorous environment, but also one that is small enough for one-on-one instruction and pastoral care.”
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